L-R: "Songs of Social Justice" segment featured vocalists Jazzmeia Horn, Dianne Reeves, Ledisi, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Lizz Wright. Background, right: drummer Nikki Glaspie. (credit: Julie Yarbrough)

Jazz Music Awards broadcast celebrates the genre and its creators

The Inaugural Jazz Music Awards
Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) & Jazz 91.1 WCLK
Founder & executive producer: Wendy F. Williams; executive producers: Rushion McDonald, Terri Lyne Carrington & Gwendolyn Quinn; hosts: Dee dee Bridgewater & Delroy Lindo; line production director: J. Kevin Swain; broadcast director: Elizabeth Healy; musical director Terri Lyne Carrington; producers: Wendy E. Williams, Gwendolyn Quinn, Terri Lyne Carrington, Elizabeth Healy, J. Kevin Swain; consulting producers: Eugenia P. Ricks, David C. Linton, James Locklin & Ray Cornelius; supervising broadcast producer: Elizabeth Healy; editor: Eric Singer; head scriptwriter: Janine Corveney; script consultant: Sherri McGee McCovey; script supervisor: Lauri Ide; creative director: Thembisa S. Mshake.
Featured performers: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Braxton Cook, Orrin Evans, Kenny Garrett, Jasmania Horn, Ledisi, Dianne Reeves, Somi, The Baylor Project, Lindsey Webster, Lizz Wright & Brandee Younger. “All-Star Band” musicians: Ray Angry, organ; Terri Lybe Carrington, drums & percussion; Milena Gasado, trumpet; Braxton Cook, alto sax; Orrin Evans, piano; James Genus, bass; Nikki Glaspie, drums, Gerson Lazo Quirgo, percussion; Kassa Overall, electrinics/DJ & percussion; Marcus Strickland, tenor sax; Mark Whitfield, guitar.
Additional credits at end of broadcast.
“Jazz Music Awards” is a division of Clark Atlanta Universitry.
Type: Televised Awards Show
Formats: Video stream; television broadcast.
Online date: December 28, 2023
Terrestrial & internet broadcast: January 1, 2024
Total Duration: 1:56:46

Mark Gresham | 2 JAN 2024

In a dazzling celebration that echoed across the airwaves at 7pm ET on New Year’s Day, Jazz 91.9 WCLK and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) presented a broadcast of The Inaugural Jazz Music Awards. Georgia residents were treated to the spectacle across the GPB network of public television stations while the rest of the world tuned in through a live stream at GPB.org and PBS.org.

A vibrant tribute to today’s jazz scene, The Jazz Music Awards honored the best of the genre’s broad community of musical excellence. The evening, hosted by the dynamic duo of Dee Dee Bridgewater and Delroy Lindo, unfolded under the expert musical direction of Terri Lyne Carrington. The lineup boasted stellar performances by luminaries such as Dianne Reeves, Kenny Garrett, Orrin Evans, Ledisi, Somi, Lizz Wright, Braxton Cook, Brandee Younger, Jazzmeia Horn, The Baylor Project, Lindsey Webster, and, of course, the illustrious Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Highlighting the event were soul-stirring tributes to jazz icons Wayne Shorter and McCoy Tyner, and a powerful “Songs of Social Justice” salute featuring Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ledisi, Lizz Wright, and Jazzmeia Horn added an extra layer of depth to the evening.

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But if there seems to be a bit of a time-warp involved in this story and a nagging feeling of “old news,” it’s not your imagination. The live ceremony seen in Monday’s broadcast took place over a year ago, on October 22, 2022, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta. Nevertheless, this television production that emerged from that live event provides good opportunity for a much larger audience to experience that inaugural Jazz Music Awards event. The goal achieved here: Heightened current awareness of jazz and a video archive for legacy.

Wendy F. Williams is the founder and executive producer of The Jazz Music Awards and general manager of 91.9 WCLK, an NPR-affiliated station based at Clark Atlanta University, of which the Awards are a division. Williams cultivated the collaboration with GPB, which provided a significant opportunity to broadcast the program across Georgia and to stream it globally.

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As co-host Delroy Lindo remarked on air: “The Jazz Music Awards is the first full-scale awards dedicated to jazz and the dynamic artists who create jazz.” Therefore its preservation (and propagation) as video is of creative and historical importance.

Six of the awards honored individuals who have dedicated their life’s work to the art form. Awards were also presented in a handful of competitive categories. And in case you are curious, here is a rundown of how all of those played out:

Inaugural Jazz Music Awards

Six Honorees

  • Jazz Impact Award of Distinction
    Prof. James Patterson
  • Jazz Composer Award
    Henry Thredgill
  • Jazz Innovator Award
    Ambrose Akinmusire
  • Jazz Educator Award
    Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
    Wayne Shorter
  • Jazz Legend Award
    McCoy Tyner

Competitive Awards

  • Best New Artist
    Winner: Samara Joy (for the album Samara Joy)
    Other nominees: Julieta Eugenio, Kazemde George, Simon Moullier,
  • Best Contemporary Artist
    Wiunner: Ragan Whiteside (for Off the Cuff)
    Other nominees: Ben Tankard, Brian Bromberg, Lindsey Webster
  • Best Mainstream Artist
    Winner: Christian McBride and Inside Straight (for Live at the Vanguard)
    Other nominees: Brandee Younger, Joey Defrancesco, Kenny Garrett
  • Best Vocal Performance
    Co-winners: Somi (for “Zenzile”); Stacey Kent (for Songs From Other Places)
    Other nominees: The Baylor Project, Shawn Montero
  • Best Duo, Group, or Big Band
    Winner: Christian McBride and Inside Straight (for Live at the Vanguard)
    Other nominees: Count Basie Orchestra (Sonny Barnhart, dir.), Jazzmia Horn and Her Noble Force, The Baylor Project, Kevin Eubanks & Orrin Evans
  • Best Contemporary Album
    Winner: Bob Baldwin (for The Stay at Home Series, Vol. I)
    Other nominees: Brian Culbertson, Gabriel Mark Hasselbach, Sonny Emory
  • Best Mainstream Album
    Co-winners: Kenny Garrett (for Songs from the Ancestors); Orrin Evans (for The Magic of Now)
    Other nominees: Brandee Younger, The Baylor Project
  • Song of the Year
    (Given to songwriters)
    Winner: Norman Brown for “Back At Ya”
    Other nominees: Brian Culbertson (for “Feel the Love”), James “PJ” Spraggins (for “Up From Here”), Justin-Lee Schultz (for “Gruv Kid”)

As of this writing, the video stream of The Inaugural Jazz Music Awards is still available for viewing on demand at GPB (www.gpb.org/television/show/jazz-music-awards) and PBS (www.pbs.org/video/inaugural-jazz-music-awards-d9v6sx/).


About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. He began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.

Read more by Mark Gresham.
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